Seniors are taking up yoga in droves. They are finding the practice of yoga and meditation to reduce stress and bring more joy into their lives. Because yoga is designed to bring balance and health to the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual dimensions of the individual, people of all ages are finding the practice to enrich their lives.
I began my yoga practice when I was 52 years old. I immediately felt at peace. For well over twenty years, I’ve practiced meditation and yoga daily as well as taught yoga for over twelve years. I’m almost 74 now, and throughout the years, I’ve been awed by the practice as a way to transcend a peaceful and joyful state of mind. Because my yoga practice is a physical, emotional, mental and spiritual experience, I am more capable of being present, staying internally balanced, and enjoying good health through the principles of breath, alignment, and movements.
I like to think that yoga is an aesthetic, a creative dance that blends movement and expression. My yoga mat is my universe, and I am the person in charge of making a difference on that mat. I am always amazed by what I learn about moving into a position without needing to get anywhere – that feeling of not needing, not grasping is an existential, timeless moment. From the flowing yoga movements come joy and renewal. I’m excited and enthusiastic to be alive and mindful of my ability to thrive in my life.
What Seniors Need to Know When They Practice Yoga
There are three parts to a yoga practice: breathing, physical movement (or asana), and meditation.
- Breathing is the linchpin of the practice, for it yokes the body and mind together. Breath is sacred, and breathing is the major mechanism that inspires us to be present. This is not an ordinary breathing pattern, but deep belly breathing that engages every cell in the body. And your breath will allow you to breathe into the edges of your strength, flexibility and awareness in your postures.
- Asana: I like to refer to the moving or physical component of a yoga practice as a “moving meditation” because it connects a clear mind with breath and physical movement. The movement component helps me let go of my thoughts and distance myself from the constant need to feed my ego.
- Meditation: I am facilitated in creating more awareness in my life through the practice of meditation. The simple definition of “meditation” is to quiet the mind. Yet, this doesn’t necessarily mean that we have to stop thinking completely. That would be almost impossible. Meditation suggests to us that we let our thoughts go and not get stuck on one track or loop. When we relax the mind, we relax our body as well.
Why Seniors Should Practice Yoga
You practice yoga on a mat in order to take your practice off the mat so you can discover what you have learned from practicing on the mat. By understanding the why of the practice, you can apply its principles as you move through the moments of the day, which can and will effect major changes in your life: greater awareness, clearer perspective and a more connected mind, body, and spirit .
Because yoga is a practice of integration and focus with breath and movement, you give yourself space to make better decisions, stay kind, compassionate, and flexible without rigidity, without labeling, without judging. As a result, you will become less reactive and less resistant, and less attached to the material things in life.
Seniors will find that yoga will distance the daily grind of life. I know I cannot change the dynamics of my world, but I can effect change in myself. I follow the yogic way of life and its principles of an open heart and mind. And what follows is my bliss.
To help you honor your yoga practice, whether you are a senior or a beginner, I want to suggest clicking the following link featured on one of my favorite websites: Sixty and Me. This is a gentle yoga video that you can do several times a week and derive many insightful benefits that a dedicated practice can give to you over your lifetime.